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HIS 121: Historical Perspectives: Primary Sources

Primary Source Material

Primary sources can be a variety of materials in different mediums.  The key to identifying primary source materials is determining if this source originates or was created during the time under study.  Primary sources were present or created during the event or time period and offer a first-hand perspective.  Examples of primary source material include:

  • Artifacts
  • Images/Visual Art
  • Maps
  • Music
  • Official Documents
  • Documents written during the time under study
  • Personal Accounts
  • Travel Narratives

Locating Primary Sources

There are many primary source materials available from the time periods covered in the Historical Perspectives class.  The text Perspectives from the Past can be a great resource for getting you started with locating primary source material.  Look through your textbook at the excerpts from the primary source material and then see if you can find the full document.  Start with a simple Google search to see if the document has been digitized or transcribed by a museum or university.  

Below are links to commonly used online primary source sites.  

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

Illuminated Manuscripts & Other Primary Sources